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tv   Tavis Smiley  WHUT  January 22, 2010 10:00pm-10:30pm EST

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tavis: good evening from los angeles, i'm tavis smiley. ats u.s. continues the gel indicate task of engaging the arabic world in the figh against extremism, no country is more important than saudi arabia, first up tonight, our conversation about saudi arabia with the best-selling author robert lacey. his latest book on the subject is called "inside the kingdom." also tonight oscar-winning actress marion cotillard is here following her standout performance in "la vie en rose," she is part of an all-star ensemble cast in the new film "nine." we're glad you joined us. historian robert lacey and actress marion cotillard coming up right now. >> there are so many things that
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wal-mart is looking forward to doing, like helping people live better, but mostly we're looking forward to building stronger communities and relationships. because of your help, the best is yet to come. >> nationwide insurance proudly supports tavis smiley. tavis and nationwide insurance, working to improve financial literacy and the economic empowerment that comes with it. >> nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] ú@ tavis: robert lacey is a noted  historian and best-selling author whose books include "the kingdom" and "majesty."
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he has turned to saudi arabia, for "inside the kingdom." robert lacey, good to have you on this program, sir. >> thank you very much. tavis: i thought to start our conversation by asking you why your fascination with saudi arabia, i think the better question might be why we should be fascinated with saudi arabia? >> well, the obvious is 9/11 for america. 15 of the 19 hijackers are saudis. i tried to explain in my book how it was basically a saudi quarrel fought out on american soil with american victims. al qaeda, bin laden dedicated to bringing down the house of saad couldn't do it in saudi arabia with the near enemy as they called him so they came to america and attacked the far enemy. you paid the price for your years of friendship and closeness with saudi arabia. tavis: i was about to ask why did we end up being at the top of that list.
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you explain it now. you talk about it in the book, the price that we had to pay for our friendship with the saudis. >> well, it's america who exploited, discovered and developed saudi oil. back in the 1930's, the saudis chose america rather than the british, rather than us because we had been meddling in the middle east. the king of saudi arabia at the time liked the idea that america were far away. they would come and develop the oil and go away. america is on the other side of the world. after the war, the second world war, suddenly, saudi arabia discovered that america is a patron of this new jewish state in the middle east. and suddenly, the love relationship turns to a love-hate relationship and it's been like that ever since. the saudis, for example, are principal supporters of the dollar. why the hell should we be friends with saudi arabia? well, one reason is all saudi
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surpluses go into the dollar. they help, along with china and japan, they're number three they help keep the dollar going. so they have enormous economic power and they use their economic power to support the american system. but they're fundamentalists and they feel it corrodes the holy land of islam because as you know mecca is in saudi arabia. they feel that they're -- that's what i say about a love-hate relationship. they feel two ways about their friendship with you. tavis: i think the answer to this question might be instructive and informative. that's why i want to ask it. when you suggested earlier in this conversation that they couldn't bring down the near enemy, so we, the u.s., became the target, the far enemy. with all of the precision and all of the process that goes into what they pulled off on 9/11, again to your point, 15 of the 19 hijackers being saudi,
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what was it about us that made us an eier target to pull this off? why couldn't they attack inside and bring down the house of saud? >> because saudi arabia is an autocicy. they have arrangements. you are a democracy. you run by the laws of freedom. people talk about 9/11 being hatched in afghanistan. maybe the original idea was. it was actually hatched in flying schools in florida and california where these guys were allowed to live. it wasn't an intelligence breakdown. it's easier to be wise after the event. hindsight is 20/20. the problem -- one of the basic problems with the war on terror is that you play by the rules and these guys don't and that is why 9/11 happened. i think it's greatly to the credit of america that you have been able to get your act together and stop anything
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serious like that happening since. it says a great deal for america. tavis: assess for me our relationship with the kingdom now. >> well, the saudis are trying to make amendments. no one is very good at saying sorry. tavis: amendments for what? >> amendments amended for 9/11. the saudis now have realized that it was elements of their culture, elements of their society that produced 9/11. i mean, bin laden was a saudi. bin laden, let's not forget was a hero of all of us. we helped create bin laden back in the 1980's when the saudis and the americans used him to help kick the russians out of afghanistan. he then turned against both saudi arabia and america. and since 9/11, particularly under this new king, king abdullah, they have been trying to get the extremism, the intolerance out of their
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textbooks. women are being brought more into the national dialogue. there is an attempt to create a knowledge society and basically the main thing is to try and reduce the fears of the modern world, which are at the root of fundamentalism. tavis: how is that process in saudi arabia coming along to your read? >> every debate you have in saudi arabia is what i call the speedometer. it's a fascinating country to live in because people are very well aware of the role they played at the beginning of the 21st century and trying to put it right. the speedometer is the reform going too fast or too slow? recently, king abdullah introduced a new science university on the red sea coast where he said for the first time, men and women will study side by side. we think that's great because in most saudi universities, men and women study separately. when women have male professors,
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very look at closed-circuit television and press a button to talk to the professor to deal with him. we think it's great that men and women should study on a campus side by side. the traditionalists in saudi arabia feel this is surrendering the past. young men and women will get together. sexual things ll happen. this is corroding traditional islamic values and there is a big backlash against what the king is trying to do. tavis: is how is the process going on isaudi arabia, you answered that the question is now how does the rest of the islamic world view what they were attempting to do inside of saudi arabia? >> the islamic world feels ambivalent about saudi arabia, because they add here to this stringent version of islam. it was after the proclaimer of it. the rigid segregation between the sexes, the resistance to things that we would call modern and a lot of muslims in the
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world are really frankly unhappy that these people should control the holy places because if you go to morocco or lebanon or islamic communities in this country, life is much more free and easy. so, again, it's an ambivalent picture. one thing i think that the islamic world rather likes in saudi arabia is this process for dealing with their terrorists and their attempts to reeducate terrorists, not just lock them up and throw away the key. tavis: that's kind of like some would compare that to the argument we have in this country about recidivism and whether rehabilitating prisoners actually works. can you rehabilitate a terrorist? >> that's a good question. i'm glad you raised the question of recidivism. she's saudi reform camps that we're talking about, the young men are debrainwashed or rebrainwashed. they sit down and look at a new
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way of islam. they're bribed. they're given jobs, hous, money to pay the bride price to get a wife, to reintegrate them into society. as a result of this, about 90% of the guys who go through these programs never reoffend. that's only 10% resaid six a compared to american jails where it's 55% recidivism. but american jails, these guys who reoffend are committing street times. 10% of terrorists are going back to terrorism and you could say that 1% recidivism tavis: is too much. >> is too much. tavis: blow up a building and kill 3,000 people in the process. >> should you lock them up and throw away the key? i think they should keep on trying this. they're trying to take the system that produced these guys and unproduce them. i think that at the end of the day has to be the right way to go. tavis: we're talking about a
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particular religion, in this case, islam. you referenced earlier what role are clerics playing in this process? >> well, there are two sorts of clerics to be oversimplifying. there are the modern progrsive clerics of the sort of whom we would approve, young men on the whole trying to engage in this change in society. but there are a lot of traditionalists who they look at the west and they don't like what they see. they see too much sexuality. they look at television shows. recently, there was a tv host in saudi arabia who started boasting about his sex life and his conquests when he was a younger man, which, you know, happens occasionally in the west. tavis: occasionally. [laughter] >> and this guy was brought in by the police, a local osecutor took him to court and sentenced him to five years in jail. now, many saudis would say yes, you shouldn't go on television and boast about your sex life.
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and islam, that means that you're effectively saying i couldn't care less about islam because any sex outside marriage for a muslim, before marriage, not just when you are married, says that you don't care about your religion. so this man should be punished. we don't want this. the religious police in saudi arabia, they're going around picking up the kids whose jeans are low so they show the tops of their back sides. they say that is not acceptable. now i can't help feeling that 50 years ago in the states, local police chiefs, if they saw kids in the street in small town america would say, pull your jeans up, sonny, or we'll taking you hoe. that world has vanished in america. it still applies in saudi arabia. tavis: there is more reason for that. we don't have enough jail cells to lock them up. i digress on that point. the new book is called "inside the kingdom" written by the
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wonderful historian, robert lacey. good to have you on the program. up next oscar-winning actress marion cotillard is with us. stay right there. marion cotillard is a talented actress who took home the oscar for the best actress back in 2007 for her much talked about performance in "la vie en rose." she now stars in the golden globe-nominated film "nine." here now, a scene from "nine." ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ to live the kind of dreams on which options aren't always what they seem ♪ ♪ he may be off to some unique romantic scene ♪ ♪ some rule the world
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♪ some earn their living making friends ♪ ♪ my husband, he goes a little crazy making movies instead ♪ tavis: some of us are our own toughest critics. i was watching when the clip was playing, you would look and look away, look and look away, look and look away. why? >> it's always weird to see yourself and usually i see the movies i'm in two times. the first time because the first time i just cannot see the movie. i don't know. it's very special to explain. and tn the second time i can actually see it. i'm not like focused on things and myself. and then that's it. tavis: you don't want to see it anymore after two times? >> no.
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[laughter] >> two times is a lot. tavis: is a lot. the studios have a whole different opinion about that. they want you to see "nine," once, twice, three and four times. you only want to see it twice. i understand that. when you got a chance to see your work in "nine," what did you think? >> it's the toughest question. well, it's hard to talk about myself in that way. it's always hard. tavis: were you happy with the work? >> yeah, it's even hard to answer this question. tavis: why don't i shut up and stop asking questions. >> you know talking about yourself, i can talk about the movie, because i love the movie, and talking about what i think of what i'm doing in the movie, it's always really, really hard. i can talk about the role. i can talk about the movie, about nicole kidman, about
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penelope cruz, about daniel day-lewis, but myself, it's hard to -- i'm very tough with me. i think i should and i think it's a good thing to be tough with yourself when you work and so i wouldn't be too tough here with me. tavis: let me ask you that question in a different way. i hear your point and i respect that. although all the persons you mentioned are your co-sts, they have said everywhere else that you are britain bill yant in this. your modest and i get that. let me ask the question in a different way, marion. i assume for each role that you play there is a different kind of confidence you have to bring to the role. in this role, you're singing, so it's notust the acting, it's the voice as well. tell me about the confidence you had to sum it up to believe that
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you could pull this off. >> well, i'm never confident when i start a project. i just know something about myself that helps me to go there. it's that i love to work and i know that with work you can do a lot of things. you can manage to be someone who is totally different from what you are and that's why i can -- that's why i love to take risks because i know if i have enough time and if i have the good people to work with, i can actually do something. so and especially with "nine," i mean, we were all in the same state when we started the movie because we were all scared about a lot of things, dancing, singing, you know, and this genre that is so special, the
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musical. so the energy was really interesting and amazing, actually, because we had those two months of rehearsals all together, all the women and daniel and with rob and the amazing team he works with. and then they helped us to build this confidence that i think not a lot of actors are confident. i think that might be a good thing because you have to rebuild your confidence each time, each movie. tavis: speaking of your singing, there were a couple of -- two or three new songs, a few songs written for the movie, the movie "nine" and won of them written specifically for you. what's it like to have a song written for you that you get to perform on firm? >> i don't see it that way.
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it was written for louisa. it was written for the character. and because them being original musical, there was this beautiful song which is "be on your own," and rob marshall wanted something with more fierce, something more violent. and "be on your own" is a very beautiful song, but it has -- something was missing for rob for the movie. so they wrote "take it all," which is a beautiful and powerful and very sad song, too, and i was very happy to have the opportunity to show another aspect of louisa's person. tavis: for you, what's the
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unique takeaway when you get a chance to work with a cast like this? i mean, everybody of course, you can't talk about "nine" without talking about the cast. what's the takeaway for marion of being able to be a part of that kind of ensemble? >> i feel, i felt, and i feel so fortunate to be part of this group of amazing actors. i think the first thing is the joy. i love that job. i love being an actress and i love having those emotions and feeling this intensity. and all those actors all together, when you see someone like nicole kidman or penelope cruz, because i spent a lot of
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time with them. we had singing class together, dancing class together, and to see those amazing actors, they have nothing to prove, but they're still there as if they have everything to learn. and it's so -- it's so beautiful to watch. tavis: speaking of beautiful to watch, i was just thinking, pardon me, my mind just drifted for two seconds and i was thinking how i would have loved to have been the music coach teaching marion and penelope and nicole, but i'm back now. i just left for about 30 seconds. >> he was amazing. paul was amazing with us. tavis: does your process -- has your process changed for the kinds of roles that you want to play where you get on this side as you are of the acclaim, the academy and golden globe
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nominations, does any of that accolade change your process of choosing the things you wanto do at this point? >> no. tavis: not at all? >> no. i couldn't -- i mean, when i read a story and it goes into my blood, i know that i have to be part of a project. and if it doesn't go right away into my heart and my soul and my blood and i get obsessed with it right away, well, i know that i won't be good. so i have to stay away from another kind of decision to do a movie. i can't do that. i just -- i love this job too much. it's my real passion. and you can't spoil your passion by doing something for the money or doing something because you have to be in a movie for your own, you know -- i don't know how to explain that, but because it's good to be in this movie because more people will see
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you, i can't do that. tavis: i will take that. i know the talk these days were "nine," i thought you were brilliant in "public enemies." >> thank you. tavis: i grew up in indiana. those scenes were in the movie. you were amazing in that as well. >> thank you very much. i mean michael mann is one of the greatest directors i have worked with and johnny depp is a greet, greet actor to work with, too. it was very, very hard. this movie was actually harder to make for me than "la vie en rose" because of this accent, the mid western accent. tavis: how did you learn that mid western accent? >> oh, my, it was four months, well, a little bit more, actually. before i started the movies, it was four months every day working on my tongue and jaws because you don't -- you don't
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use the same muscles in american, the one we used in french, so you really have to not learn how to do an accent, but learn how to speak. and it was -- it was really the hardest thing i have ever had to do. tavis: you pulled it off. i love the midwest, but french is a whole lot sexier, better than than a mid western accent. nice to have you on the problem. >> thank you. tavis: marion cotillar one of the stars of the film "nine." go check it out. that's our show for tonight. catch me on the weekends on pri, public radio international. you can access our radio podcast through our website. until then, good night from los angeles, thanks for watching and as always, keep the faith. >> ♪ when you press me to your
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heart ♪ ♪ i'm in a world ♪ then when you're in the world ♪ ♪ the world seems to come in closer ♪ ♪ givee your heart and come to me ♪ >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a look at congressional efforts to regulate the banking industry plus actress keri russell. that's next time. we'll see you then. >> there are so many things that wal-mart is looking forward to doing like helping people live better, but mostly we're looking forward to building stronger communities and relationships. because of your help, the best
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is yet to come. >> nationwide insurance proudly supports tavis smiley. tavis and nationwide insurance, working to improve financial literacy and the economic empowerment that comes with it. >> nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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